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"Broadband" is the general term used to describe high-speed Internet services. A broadband connection brings websites, videos, and other content to users much faster than older technologies. These faster speeds have created the opportunity for a wide range of new services and uses for the internet, such as streaming video (YouTube) and online gaming (World of Warcraft), and have greatly sped up activities like viewing text (Wikipedia) and photos (Flickr).
Public Knowledge’s Position
Broadband has become a necessity for using the Internet effectively for social, political, and cultural engagement, for participating in the economy, innovation, and for the free flow of information.
Public Knowledge believes that increasing competition and preserving the Internet’s open nature will lead to faster speeds, lower cost, and a better product overall for consumers.
There are a number of issues that PK works on regarding broadband:
Approximately 93 millions Americans either can’t afford broadband or don’t have access to it in their area (14-24 million Americans). This problem, often referred to as the “digital divide”, prevents many Americans in rural areas or with low incomes from accessing educational, occupational, and recreational opportunities such as free newspapers, job listings, and the rest of online culture.
Public Knowledge advocates for policies, like USF reform, that would facilitate the deployment and adoption of broadband services to areas of the country where this vital service is lacking.
The National Broadband Plan
As part of the economic stimulus bill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was given the responsibility of developing a “National Broadband Plan.” The resulting 376 page document lays a good foundation to promote competition, promote deployment, and try some courageous, novel and controversial ideas to make broadband infrastructure available to everyone.
The plan is not perfect, but it is a strong foundation for building a better broadband future. Public Knowledge advocates for moving forward with the plan and ensuring that the FCC is able to successfully employ it.
An increasing number of towns across the U.S. have decided, as a public and commercial good, to blanket the town with WiFi, at little or no cost to residents. Unfortunately, Internet service providers have taken the viewpoint that if they cannot provide the locale Internet access, no one should.
Public Knowledge supports municipalities that offer free or low cost WiFi to the people that live there. Broadband access is critical to a city’s economy as it gives its citizens and businesses the opportunity to compete in the global knowledge economy.
Opening up more of the public airwaves (“spectrum”) to licensed and unlicensed uses could allay many concerns about broadband adoption and competition. Policies like the recent “white spaces” ruling, which frees up the small sections of spectrum between TV stations, could be used to create “Wi-Fi on steroids,” that is, broadband connections that can go through wall and travel much farther than ordinary Wi-Fi.
Finding and reallocating new spectrum is not an easy task, but not doing so is one of the biggest obstacles to competition and universal broadband access. Public Knowledge is a strong advocate for reforming spectrum policy to bring more voices to the public airwaves, improve broadband access, and encourage innovation.
What you can do to help
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For More Information on Broadband
- Read our paper Good Fences Make Bad Broadband